Blog: 91 years and 20 days | Blogs

Rose and Dave Ross, my parents, had something amazing in common, and they never knew it, and there was no way they could ever have known it. You see, each of them lived exactly 91 years and 20 days.

When I attended a fundraiser in New York for my alma mater, I learned that a classmate of mine had become a famous mathematician. A friend directed his way to me, and he was there in a far corner of the living room courting in front of a group of admiring classmates.

I listened for a few moments, then asked cautiously if he was in fact a mathematician. When he said yes, I told him he was exactly the right person to answer a nagging question that I couldn’t answer myself. He seemed more than open to challenge.

“My parents each lived for 91 years and 20 days. What are the chances of this happening? I asked the genie. When he was thinking deeply, I could almost hear his brain calculating the odds. We all looked at him as if we were in the presence of Albert Einstein.

After no more than 15 seconds, he announced that he had an answer to my question. We, the congregation, were now fully convinced that there was before us one of the greatest minds of our time. We looked at him figuratively and literally because this genius was quite tall.

He waited while our anticipation built. Finally, he told the attentive assembly, “The answer to your question ‘what are the chances that your parents will each live exactly 91 years and 20 days’ – the chances are … very slim. This genius among us was more than a genius, he was also an actor. Yeah, I got home and looked it up in our reunion book, and sure enough, this mathematician did stand-up in parallel.

I never learned the odds, but “very thin” was good enough for me.

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